In this article, we will examine several issues relating to the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP). First, we will examine recently-released performance statistics for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, applications for benefits under the FWVP through the second quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2017. Second, we will discuss uncertainty about the prospects of the FWVP for future applicants with respect to potential changes in immigration parole policy. Notwithstanding the second point, it is important to note that as of June 14, 2017, the USCIS is processing applications for benefits under the FWVP as it did when it commenced the program on June 8, 2016. Please see our full article to learn about the rules and eligibility requirements of the FWVP [see article].
On June 8, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released performance data for the number of Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, applications for benefits under the FWVP as of March 31, 2017 [PDF version]. The data covers the second quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2017. The data is reproduced as follows:
Through Q2 FY 2017, the USCIS accepted 361 applications for benefits under the FWVP. Of these, it granted conditional approval for 179. The USCIS approved 52 applications and denied 33, leaving 276 applications pending (including those granted conditional approval).
FWVP in General
The FWVP offers benefits to a limited number of Filipino WWII veterans and widows with long-pending immigrant visa applications. Please see our full article to learn about the details of the program [see article].
Questions About the Future of the FWVP?
On February 20, 2017, the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, issued a Memorandum titled “Implementing the President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies” [see article]. Section K of the Memorandum addressed the use of immigration parole authority found in section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) [see section]. Secretary Kelly instructed that the parole authority should be used “sparingly” and should not be used to “create immigration programs not established by Congress.” To this effect, Secretary Kelly instructed the relevant agencies of the DHS to create new guidance regarding the use of parole authority that would be consistent both with his Memo and with President Donald Trump's January 25, 2017 Executive Orders on immigration.
The language of Secretary Kelly's Memorandum would seem to call into question the future of the FWVP, which creates a protocol for granting parole to a class of aliens, albeit on a case-by-case basis. To that effect, it may arguably constitute an “immigration program not authorized by Congress.” However, it is important to note a few key points. First, notwithstanding the Memo and President Trump's Executive Order, the USCIS has continued to process cases under the FWVP as it was before. Second, it will not be clear whether the FWVP is affected in the future by any policy changes until the promised guidance on the use of parole authority is released. Third, even if the FWVP is the type of parole program called into question in Section K of the Kelly Memo, that does not necessarily mean that it will be discontinued for future applicants upon the release of new parole guidance. For example, in other places, the Kelly Memoranda state that prosecutorial discretion should not be used to exempt classes of aliens from immigration enforcement. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has left in place the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is undoubtedly the most significant example of using prosecutorial discretion to exempt a class of aliens from immigration enforcement.
We will update the site when the DHS releases new guidance on the use of immigration parole and with any information specific to the FWVP.
Those with applications for benefits under the FWVP or general questions about the program should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for expert and case-specific guidance.